"My name is Stephen and I am a Bad Scot. At least that’s how I feel. For the past week Italian flags have been popping up all over Scotland ahead of tonight’s Euro 2020 final.
"All this resentment leaves me cold because, as a Scot, I would love to see England triumph tonight.
"How could you not want this England side to win? Harry Kane and his squad have played their hearts out, given us all a much-needed dose of optimism during our second Covid summer, and seem like a solid bunch of lads to boot. Gareth Southgate’s story, from that penalty miss to carrying the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, has got more redemption and resurrection than half the New Testament.
"For Scots, the soft xenophobia of Anyone But England is how we work through our own inadequacies on the pitch and off. It’s a comedically one-sided rivalry in which we brand England ‘the Auld Enemy’ and England ever so occasionally notices that we’re there.
"It’s about football but the vehemence of the hatred (and for some it really is hatred) tells you it’s about something more than that. Anyone But England is where football fandom, friendly competition, cultural chippiness, national envy and Anglophobia skite around and skelp off one other, like Tennent’s-fuelled, saltire-branded dodgems.
"Anyone But England’s relentlessly negative focus is particularly woeful because this tournament saw a plucky, energetic Scotland squad that probably deserved to go further than it did. The advances made in skill, strategy and management — advances so evident even a soccerball noob like me can discern them — are at risk of being overshadowed by that gloomy cloud we like to mope under wishing it would rain on England.
"So, no, I won’t be cheering on Italy tonight, a fine team and a fine country though it is. I’ll be bawling myself hoarse in support of Kane and the rest of Southgate’s men and for the millions of England fans who have dared to hope that it’s coming home at last. I don’t see the English as an enemy, auld or otherwise, but as my compatriots, mates, family — and the only nation in this country that is required to cloak even the slightest hint of national pride in universalist wokery to be deemed permissible. My fellow Scots can seethe and wail and teach themselves the lyrics to ‘Inno di Mameli’ all they want, but tonight I’ll be crying God for Harry, England and Saint Gareth."
(Stephen Daisley, extracts from an article on the Spectator Website today which you can read in full here.)